Image: Roses_in_the_snow by albularider, under a Creative Commons licence
December is a full-immersion month: pressure is on to get everything done before work closes down, or Christmas takes over, or both. There should be a huge collective sigh of relief as the door closes on work life and opens on more leisurely days, and it always bothers me to think that this period is for some people even more pressured, because of the expectations they – or others round them – have that these midwinter days must be extraordinary.
I’ve just returned from New Zealand, which of course is heading towards summer, and there the atmosphere is more relaxed because Christmas is not the only bright period in a succession of dark days, it’s a bright day with more to come. That’s the hope, anyway!
When the world turns upside down and all of a sudden the roses are in bloom, it reminds you that nothing stands still. In his great poem ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’, Rilke writes: ‘You must change your life’. In 2015 the SPL’s building was changed. In 2016 the SPL will have a new Director. I shall be stepping down in May.
It has been a difficult decision to make, but I believe it is the right time for me and for the organisation. I will have been in post for 16 years, and they have been rich in marvellous experiences. I have been so fortunate in my colleagues. Everyone I meet says: ‘Director of a poetry library – what a wonderful job!’ I trust that there are people out there who have longed or will long to take it on, and that one of them will build on and extend what we have achieved here. ‘Unknown is best!’ wrote Edwin Morgan, brave voyager, and that is the spirit in which we should approach a new year – even though we might have been hoping for calm seas and familiar landings.
I won’t say my farewells yet, but I’m both looking forward to and looking beyond the holidays, to the new year and a changed life. The SPL will, I’m sure, go from strength to strength. Let me wish you all the very best of this season: peace and good fellowship, and whatever lights up those dark days for you.
For more details of the post of Director of the Scottish Poetry Library and how to apply for it, click here.